Cash Flow Management During a Crisis

By Benjamin Vance with Postlethwaite & Netterville

NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Businesses and individuals in the Gulf South are no strangers to disasters. The coronavirus pandemic is a disaster unlike those we have seen before – its reach is wide and duration uncertain. Business leaders, however, can find comfort in the lessons we’ve learned from past disaster experiences that have taught us to think and operate differently. During this time of crisis, businesses should be thinking differently about managing their cash flow – not to make a profit, but to answer questions such as:

How will my revenue be impacted, and for how long?

How will my collections be impacted?

What expenses can I pay now, defer, or eliminate?

How much flexibility do I have in vendor payment terms?

What relief aid and/or financing programs are available, and how do I know which program will provide the most benefits?

The following is an overview of recommended steps to shift your company’s perspective on cash flow management during this unusual time of crisis. We have also created an Excel template (available below) to help you assess and refocus your cash flow management.

Cash Flow Forecasting

One of the first steps companies can take to manage cash flow during a crisis is to forecast basic cash flow components. This will help you identify potential challenges, measure impacts, and implement strategies to improve cash flow positions.

Revenue and Expense Management Managing the Cash Conversion Cycle
Cash flow management starts with revenues and expenses. Businesses often have more control over these areas as opposed to outside financing, third-party vendors, or customer collections. Also, your ability to forecast can help with other decisions, such as reducing inventory purchases to match expected sales reductions.

  • Offer creative revenue promotions.
  • Provide multiple payment options, such as electronic payments and credit cards.
  • Consider alternative revenue streams.
  • Minimize variable costs, such as travel, R&D, entertainment, etc.
  • Evaluate labor costs intelligently (voluntary employee leaves, furloughs, minimize overtime, reduce hours, etc.).
  • Convert fixed costs to variable costs (sale-leaseback, contract manufacturing, vehicle and equipment leasing, third-party warehousing, etc.).
  • Audit or review vendor invoices carefully.
The cash conversion cycle consists of inventory, receivables, and payables. In general, companies should look for ways to decrease days in inventory and days in receivables (collections) while increasing days in payable.

  • Provide incentives to accelerate collections.
  • Send invoices promptly and more frequently (or early if possible).
  • Revisit past-due accounts.
  • Request deposits or retainers.
  • Negotiate vendor payment terms, or request more services from your vendors.
  • Review inventory management processes such as input costs, bulk purchasing, material waste/spoilage, etc.
  • Consider just-in-time inventory purchasing or ways to reduce supplier lead times.
  • Improve forecasting accuracy by matching projected sales with inventory purchases.
Capital Expenditures Debt Capital
Fixed assets are required for most businesses, and the cost to maintain fixed assets can be significant.

  • Defer capital expenditures where practical.
  • Sell or lease non-essential assets.
  • Evaluate options to lease vs. purchase.
  • Obtain multiple bids on large purchases.
  • Carefully evaluate and manage costs on capital projects.
Businesses may need to rely on debt more heavily during times of crisis. While debt can provide relief, the money is not free. Businesses should carefully asses credit options and the amount needed to get them through a crisis.

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  • Evaluate flexible financing options and stay in close communication with your credit providers.
  • Understand government financing programs, guidelines, and processes.
  • Be open to creative alternative sources, such as private equity and insurance vehicles that can provide sources of capital.
  • Improve financial reporting and transparency with lenders – don’t hide surprises.

Free Resource: Basic Cash Flow Forecasting Template

We realize that not every business has a tool in place to forecast cash flow, and the cost and time to create such a tool may be an obstacle. In response, we have developed a general cash flow template that businesses can use as a starting point. This template addresses general cash flow areas, but each business may need to model its cash flow differently. This free tool is being provided for your internal use only, and you should take complete responsibility for the information produced when using this tool. Consult with your P&N advisor before making any decisions related to this information.

Download the Free Basic Cash Flow Forecasting Template


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This article was offered and written by Postlethwaite & Netterville



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